Duke Schweitzer Fellows Address Health Disparities

By Shantell M. Kirkendoll

Four students at the Duke University School of Medicine have been named to the 2023-24 class of the North Carolina Albert Schweitzer Fellowship program and will spend the next year working on projects that address social factors that impact health and health care.  

They are part of a class of 29 North Carolina graduate students representing medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, occupational therapy, public health, and law.  

“Schweitzer Fellows are not given a project or told to address a specific health need,” said Barbara Heffner, executive director of the NC Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. “They follow their passion and the needs of the community to develop innovative approaches which fill gaps in our health care system.”  

Schweitzer Fellows develop and implement service projects that address the root causes of health disparities in under-resourced communities, while also fulfilling their academic responsibilities.  

The fellowships include an intensive leadership component, with fellows working closely with community and academic mentors during their fellowship year.  

The Duke Schweitzer Fellows are:  

Katherine Kutzer and Eden Singh   

Katherine Kutzer and Eden Singh 
Katherine Kutzer and Eden Singh 

Academic Mentors: Thorsten Seyler, MD, PhD, associate professor of orthopaedic surgery and Dawn Coleman, MD, chief of vascular and endovascular surgery 

Site Mentor: Mamata Yanamadala, MD, associate professor of medicine   

Site: Perioperative Optimization of Senior Health (POSH) Clinic at the Durham VA Medical Center  

Participate in POSH Pals to help older adults achieve health equity by providing them with the support needed for a successful recovery from elective surgery. Students will use telehealth to screen veterans, connect them to community resources, and provide medication and appointment reminders at discharge and follow-up. 

Dana Rowe and Antoinette Charles  

Dana Rowe and Antoinette Charles  
Dana Rowe and Antoinette Charles

Academic Mentor: C. Rory Goodwin, MD, PhD, associate professor of neurosurgery and Melissa Erickson, MD, MBA, associate professor of orthopaedic surgery  

Site Mentor: Katie Mackin   

Site: Spine Tumor Patient Support Group  

Lead a patient navigator program for those in the Duke Spine Division of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Department of Neurosurgery. The program aims to improve care for spine surgery patients through personalized guidance from navigators, peer mentorship, and support groups. 

The North Carolina Albert Schweitzer Fellowship is preparing the next generation of professionals who have a passion for community service and innovation in addressing health disparities. NCASF began in 1994 as a local chapter of the national nonprofit, the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, and has trained more than 634 leaders in health care.